Sunday, March 29, 2009

Christian valedictorian case headed for Supreme Court

Attorneys for a high school valedictorian whose microphone was turned off when she began sharing her Christian faith say they'll appeal her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.The Rutherford Institute is representing Brittany McComb, whose lawsuit against school officials was dismissed Friday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court stated that "by preventing her from making a proselytizing graduation speech," McComb's free speech and free exercise rights were not violated, nor was her right to equal protection.In June 2006, McComb strayed from her school-approved script to tell how faith in Jesus had filled a void in her life.Her microphone was shut off in mid-sentence as she said, "God's love is so great that he gave up-gave up his only Son..." The audience responded with boos and shouts to turn it back on, and responded similarly when school officials attempted to introduce the next valedictorian speaker, saying "she deserves this chance to speak."One month later, McComb filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Foothill High (Henderson, Nevada). The school's attempts to have that original case dismissed were rejected by the U.S. District Court for Nevada in June 2007, and school officials subsequently appealed to the Ninth Circuit to have the case dismissed. The Rutherford Institute says it will now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that school officials violated McComb's constitutional rights. "This is a very important free-speech case that will affect the rights of all persons across America," states John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, in a press release. "If government officials can extinguish speech by turning off microphones at public assemblies, then none of us will have any rights." He argues that McComb's case is another example of a "politically correct culture" that silences Christians in order not to offend those of other beliefs. "Brittany McComb worked hard to earn the right to address her classmates as valedictorian," Whitehead says on his firm's website, "and she has a constitutional right-like any other student-to freely speak about the factors that contributed to her success, whether they be a supportive family, friends, or her faith in Jesus Christ."Brittany McComb was one of three valedictorians chosen to deliver a speech at the June 2006 commencement ceremony at Foothill High School.She is currently studying at Oxford University.

Read a complete history of this case and view a video of Brittany McComb's speech
By Jodi Brown
http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=463166
As in the days of Noah....

State Department Releases Religious Freedom Blacklist

The State Department headed under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released this week the religious freedom violator blacklist designated by the Bush administration in January before leaving office.Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice re-designated the same eight countries named in 2006-Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, the Peoples Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan-as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) on Jan. 16.The list was not made available until this week after an inquiry by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).Being named a CPC is the worst label a country can receive from the United States for religious freedom violations. The designation can result in a wide range of U.S. actions against the country in attempt to improve its religious freedom record, including sanctions.USCIRF, a bipartisan government agency that monitors religious freedom status around the world, was critical of the latest CPC list for not adding any of the countries it had recommended. It also voiced dissatisfaction that although Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan were designated CPC, the Bush administration had given them waivers.USCIRF had recommended in its 2008 Annual Report for the State Department to add Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, and Iraq to the eight countries already designated as CPCs.“The Commission is disappointed that Secretary Rice refused to designate any new countries and that waivers were granted for both Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia,” said Felice Gaer, USCIRF chair, in a statement. “Religious freedom conditions in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia are appalling and a specific U.S. government response is required.”Saudi Arabia is known to practice the strictest form of Islam, Wahhabism, and stands out among Islamic states for its extremely harsh laws against all religions other than the Wahhabi branch.Investigation have also shown that it spends millions each year disseminating Islamic teachings - including religious literatures that teaches students to hate “infidels,” or non-believers – around the world.The country also has severe human rights abuses including a legal system with punishments such as flogging and amputation. Saudi Arabia has been a CPC since 2004, but has received a waiver, or essentially a pass, each year.USCIRF had sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February expressing the Commission’s concern, including the State Department’s failure to designate CPC’s. The State Department has not released a new CPC list since 2006. The list released this week occurred after the Commission’s inquiry.“State Department efforts to negotiate with certain countries to bring about improvements in religious freedom certainly might be an appropriate reason for delaying CPC designation, but the Commission concludes that the State Department should have acted years ago in the case of a number of the countries our Commission recommended for CPC designation, under our statutory authority,” Gaer said.“As it reviews the previous Administration's CPC designations, we hope the Obama Administration will recognize the added value that CPC status can bring to American public diplomacy on human rights.”The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) requires an annual State Department review by Sept. 1 of each year. Although the IRFA does not set a specific deadline for CPC designations, decisions are based on the annual review and therefore is expected to come soon after, the Commission pointed out.USCIRF noted it is “problematic” for the State Department to release a CPC list after a more than two-year delay.
By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
As in the days of Noah...

International Policy Watchdogs Call U.N.'s "Defamation of Religions" Dangerous

Religious freedom and human rights groups are protesting a U.N. resolution on defamation of religions that could be used to justify anti-blasphemy laws and restrict freedom of expression, belief, and press.Since last week, a letter has been circulating around the world among rights groups seeking the signature of those opposed to the resolution. Critics argue that the “combating defamation of religion” concept has no validity in international law.The resolution, created by members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), explains the concept of defamation of religion in a way that could be manipulated to “silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters, and other independent voices,” the letter warned.U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide signed the statement on Wednesday, which had already been signed by 186 other non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries.Among the first signers were Freedom House, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and U.N. Watch.The resolution comes at a critical time for the United Nations, which is preparing for the upcoming “Durban Review Conference” in Geneva this April. The conference is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa.There is concern that the Review Conference will be used to legitimize a “defamation of religion” agenda, supported by the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Conference.“We are concerned that the motivation behind these annual resolutions on defamation of religion, and the aspiration to push this agenda at international conferences is not driven by a desire to protect religious believers,” said CSW’s chief executive, Mervyn Thomas.”Rather, we believe these resolutions can be used to protect states from the legitimate criticism of human rights defenders," Thomas continued. "They may also be used to justify blasphemy, anti-conversion and apostasy laws.“CSW therefore urges member states to reject such texts and to seek the protection of religious believers through existing international human rights law.”
By Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter
As in the days of Noah...

U.N.Council Ignores Mass Petition,Adopts "Defamation of Religions" Resolution

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a “defamation of religions” resolution on Thursday, ignoring a mass petition signed by over 180 non-government organizations from more than 50 different countries."Human rights protect people, not ideas," responded L. Bennett Graham, Becket Fund representative to the U.N., in a statement after the resolution was passed. "The passage of this resolution by the Human Rights Council is a disaster for people of all faiths." Becket Fund for Religious Liberty co-drafted the petition that requested the Council to reject the resolution.Critics of the defamation of religions resolution warn that it could be used to legitimize anti-blasphemy laws and intimidate human rights activists and religious dissenters. Instead of protecting adherents of religions, including those of religious minorities, the resolution protects religions themselves, they say.“Unfortunately these resolutions seek to undermine the very principles we were celebrating just last December with the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide advocacy director Alexa Papadouris.“They attack freedom of expression and freedom of religion and seek to protect powerful governments at the expense of often powerless individuals.”CSW was among the 186 NGOs that called on governments to reject the Pakistan-tabled resolution.Various forms of the defamation of religions resolution have been created and backed by members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). A version of the resolution was first introduced to the U.N. Human Rights Council by the Islamic Conference in 1999 under the title “defamation of Islam.”But international outcry against the resolution resulted in sustained lobbying at the United Nations. Since 2005, the resolution has been passed annually at the U.N. General Assembly.However in 2008, for the first time, “no” and “abstention” votes combined outweighed "yes" votes on the “defamation of religions” resolution.On Thursday, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the resolution by a vote of 23 yes, 11 no, and 13 abstentions. NGOs have noted that this is the second year in a row that “no” and “abstention” votes combined have outweighed “yes” votes on the resolution.Becket Fund’s Graham, who is in Geneva, emphasized, "We are no longer talking about rights at the Human Rights Council, we are talking about politics. It's a disgrace.”He added, "We already have the tools we need to address religious conflicts in international law, including existing provisions against incitement to hatred and violence. We need to use them better."CSW’s Papadouris urges governments to reject defamation of religion in “whatever form it should take” at next month’s U.N. Durban Review Conference in Geneva.By Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter
http://www.christianpost.com/Intl/Human_rights/2009/03/u-n-council-ignores-mass-petition-adopts-defamation-of-religions-resolution-27/index.html
As in the days of Noah....

Not Guilty Plea for Alleged Ill. Church Shooter

A man charged in the fatal shooting of a pastor during church services said that he wanted to plead guilty, moments after his attorney entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

Settlement Lets Christian Preach in Public Square

MODESTO, Calif.-Attorneys for a Christian street preacher have reached a settlement with the city of Modesto, California, that allows him to keep sharing the gospel.The Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on behalf of Kevin Borden(picture left)in July to challenge Modesto’s attempts to block him from preaching in the city’s public square on Saturday evenings.The city prevented Borden from preaching outside theaters in the square for 10 months by claiming the private business was renting the plaza, making it akin to private property.Under the settlement approved by a federal judge, taxpayers will pay Borden’s legal expenses.
As in the days of Noah...

California college denies funding to Christian club

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California has dealt yet another blow to religion. The Christian Legal Society (CLS) chapter at Hastings College of Law wanted school recognition in order to obtain certain privileges such as funding. CLS attorney Tim Tracey picks up the story."So they applied for recognition and Hastings said essentially, sorry, you can't be recognized because your membership requirements and leadership requirements violate our non-discrimination policy. So, requiring your members to believe in Jesus Christ and telling them that they can't engage in sex outside of marriage, those are discriminatory policies, and we don't have a place for you here," Tracey explains. CLS filed suit in federal court and lost the ruling, so the case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit. "They affirmed that Hastings had a right to deny recognition to a religious student group because it requires its officers and voting members to agree with its Christian beliefs," Tracey adds. Tracey finds it outrageous in light of other federal courts ruling that the clubs have a constitutional right to determine their philosophy and membership. The Supreme Court will be asked to take the case.
By Charlie Butts
As in the days of Noah...

Bishop of Rochester resigns to become defender of persecuted Christians

The Rev Michael Nazir-Ali has resigned from his post as the Bishop of Rochester. Photo: CHRISTOPHER PLEDGER
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali is only 59 and could have stayed for another decade in his post, one of the most senior in the Church, but has chosen instead to devote the rest of his career to working in communities where Christians are in a minority.While this is likely to see him involved in the Middle East and Pakistan, the bishop revealed that he also plans to work with Muslim converts to Christianity in Britain.He said he has been inspired by the story of Hannah Shah, an Imam's daughter who faced being killed by her family for refusing an arranged marriage before becoming a Christian."Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation," said a spokesman.
In a letter to clergy in his diocese, the bishop said: "I have decided that the time is now right for me to step down as Bishop of Rochester. I have valued my modest part in the life of the Church locally, nationally and globally."We take this step of faith 'not knowing where we are going.'"Dr Nazir-Ali, who is the Church's first and only Asian bishop, received death threats himself after warning last year that parts of the country have been turned into "no-go" areas for non-Muslims.He has been unafraid to speak out since being appointed as Bishop of Rochester in 1994 and has risen to become a leading champion of traditional Christianity in Britain.Many saw him as a likely contender to succeed George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, but he has instead become a focus for the conservative evangelical wing of the Church that has opposed the incumbent, Dr Rowan Williams.His interventions over the row over homosexual clergy in the Anglican Church have been seen as a direct challenge to the archbishop.Nevertheless, Dr Williams paid tribute to Dr Nazir-Ali's contribution to the Church of England."Bishop Michael's decision to undertake this new and very challenging ministry will leave a real gap in the ranks of English bishops," he said."His enormous theological skill, his specialist involvement in the complex debates around bioethics, his wide international experience and his clarity of mind and expression have made him a really valuable colleague, and he has served the Church and the wider society with dedication and distinction."In his new work with churches in minority situations, he will need all our prayer and support."It is a courageous initiative and a timely one."
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
As in the days of Noah...

Monday, March 23, 2009

UPDATE:A NOTE TO MY READERS

I just wanted you all to know that my pastor,bro.Norris,passed away on saturday night at 1145PM.He was 47.He was like a father to us.Today we had a worship service at church,but it wasn't the same;it will never be the same without him.I would truly appreciate your prayers at this moment.Please pray for his wife and his two children.
I am having a hard time dealing with this.I haven't slept in two nights at all and I've been feeling physically sick.
I find myself beyond words.
I want to truly thank all those of you that sent me a note of encouragement,and overall for your agreement in prayer.
I have no way of repay you for all the love and prayers and the care even though we have never sen each other.The Lord will reward you.
You have no idea what it meant for me and my family
God bless you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart.
As in the days of Noah....
PS:Bro. Norris,loved the persecuted church and it is in great part because of him that I have this blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An anti-conversion bill in Sri Lanka faces opposition

Sri Lanka (MNN)U.S. Congressmen are pressing Sri Lanka to drop its controversial anti-conversion bill.The proposed bill, called the "Prohibition of Forcible Conversions," imposes fines of up to 500,000 Sri Lankan rupees ($4,425 USD) and up to seven years in prison for trying to convert a Sri Lankan citizen from one religion to another by using "force, fraud or allurement."The harshest punishments are aimed at those convicted of converting women or children. The Jathika Hela Urumaya political party, whose leadership is comprised of Buddhist monks, drafted the bill.According to Gospel For Asia, a leader of that party went on record saying that US-funded Christian missionaries are one of the greatest threats facing Sri Lanka.Ironically, Sri Lanka's constitution guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion. That's what has made the anti-conversion bill divisive. Debate has been deferred amid opposition from Christians.Craig Detweiler with Asian Access says many are already working toward reconciliation, regardless of the politics or jockeying for power that has gripped the small island nation."One of our vice presidents serves as a pastor in Colombo, Kithu Sevana Church. They're doing remarkable things to bring Sinhalese and Tamils together in the name of Christ, and yet there are proposed laws that could make that a crime."The pastor networks Asian Access supports have been watching the anti-conversion saga."We have pastors in Mongolia, Japan and Thailand who are very concerned about what is happening in Sri Lanka. If certain laws are passed, maybe by a Buddhist majority there, it could be exported to other countries."Keep praying for wisdom for their team of church leaders."We're hopeful that the Christian community, which is a small minority, will be able to broker a fragile peace between the Buddhist majority Sinhalese and the Hindu minority Tamil community, and that there may be healing to a country that desperately needs it."Sri Lanka is a colorful and highly-complex country whose people have paid a heavy price in a decades-long civil war. According to the Associated Press, the death toll is estimated at roughly 40 civilians every day, with more than 100 wounded, as artillery shells and gun battles between the two sides devastate the Sri Lankan northeast.Yet many hearts are open to the hope and peace that comes from Christ. Detweiler produced a documentary about the country, its problems and its hope for a future.To watch it, click here. http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12368
As in the days of Noah...

The Cross In China (Chinese Revival Story) - Part 1

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vietnam Police Kill Christian Farmer Amid Rural Crackdown

Vietnam (BosNewsLife)Degar Montagnard Christians and other believers in several areas of Vietnam's Central Highlands faced another day of persecution Friday, February 27th, after at least one Christian peasant was brutally hacked to death by security forces and an angry mob, missionary workers and a key official told BosNewsLife.The United States-based Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), which has close ties with Christians in the area,told BosNewsLife it has just learned that Siu Krot, 65, was killed outside his farm, after refusing to sell his land.Local authorities have often pressured indigenous Christians to sell their lands below market value, or nationalized them, according to MFI and other advocacy groups."The Vietnam law is craftily designed to kill the indigenous Degar Montagnard people but protect ethnic Vietnamese as you can see with our Christian brother Siu Krot," MFI President Kok Ksor told BosNewsLife. Communist officials have denied that persecution has been taking place, calling the reports Western propaganda. However, Christian Aid Mission (CAM) quoted local Christians, including a pastor, as saying that homes have been destroyed and burned and that believers have been detained and tortured."Just a few years ago, more than 300 tribal pastors were put in prison ñ or simply vanished. No one has ever heard from them since," CAM added. It remains difficult for tribal churches to operate because to become "legal" they have to receive official permission for Christian activities, CAM said. Yet despite the setbacks, CAM stressed that some missionaries have noted a "sudden change" in attitudes of authorities towards Christians in some areas of the country, where so far tribal house churches were banned. Full Story.
PRAY that the Vietnamese Christians will be strengthened in their faith and that God will protect them from harassment and violent acts against them.
PRAY that Christianity continues to flourish under the regime.
PRAY that the Communist officials will acknowledge that persecution is taking place and that the international community will continue to expose the persecution of Christians in Vietnam.
PRAISE that some of the Vietnamese authorities are becoming more favorable towards Christians.
For more general information, please go to ICC’s website on Vietnam.
As in the days of Noah...

China:Violent crackdown by Chinese authorities on dissent now a daily occurrence

China (AsiaNews/Agencies)Violence by Chinese authorities has become a daily occurrence against people who demand religious freedom or who are opposed to the actions of the Communist government.Examples abound.On the 11th of February, police raided a private evangelical seminar in the Nanyang's Wolong district (central China), and they detained more than 60 home church leaders. They were booked by the police and forced to pay a fine. Eventually, they were released.The two Koreans were instead accused of "engaging in illegal religious activities" and expelled on the 14th of February,"banned from re-entering China for five years."In Beijing, a law firm was shut down for providing legal counsel to human rights activists.Anyone stepping out of the official party line, getting together to pray, or demanding that the Chinese law protect Christians are feeling the authorities' wrath.Under the current system of government,Christians can only take part in activities organized by official groups which are run by the Communist Party.However, most Christian home churches do not receive such approval. Similarly, the authorities are not letting up in their threats and intimidations against people daring to speak about Charter 08. It is a document that states that the Chinese government is to better respect human rights and also implement more democracy. And one signatory, Liu Xiaobo, has been in detention since the 8th of December 2008 for penning his name to the charter. His family has not yet been informed of the charges pending against him. His wife has only been able to see him once since his arrest. Even violence against petitioners has become systematic. Full Story.
PRAY that the Chinese government will halt the intimidation and persecution of Chinese Christians who support or who are involved with ìdomestic churchesî by abiding with Charter 08.
PRAY that the Chinese Christians will be creative with their worship and that they continue to wisely and boldly spread the Gospel to the Chinese people.
PRAY that Christianity continues to flourish under the regime.
PRAY that the international community will continue to expose the persecution of Christians in China.
For more general information, please go to ICC’s website on China.
As in the days of Noah...

SPREAD THE LIGHT....!!!!

From 2/27 through March 27th, International Christian Concern will be holding their second "Spread the Light" recruitment contest for our Cause on Facebook.This is an excellent opportunity to make your friends and networks aware of the plight of persecuted Christians around the world....
To read more go to:
International Christian Concern
As in the days of Noah...

Believers in India have reached 10 to 11 percent of the population

India (MNN)A total of 829 pastoral leaders attended two Frontline Shepherds conferences in India.David Shibley with Global Advance says the conference encouraged pastors to continue to be bold in their faith."We are not suggesting that we be bombastic or culturally insensitive in the proclamation or the Gospel. At the same time, we are not to close our mouths, and we are not to back up in the proclamation of the Gospel. So yes, this does present a dilemma and a spiritual challenge for pastors in those places where there are anti-conversion laws."Despite challenges, pastors were encouraged by the presence of so many other Christian leaders, 60 percent of whom were under the age of 30.The number of believers in India has risen to 10 or 11 percent of the population, rising from three percent in the last 20 years.
Pray for boldness for believers as they continue to be persecuted.

As in the days of Noah...

Cuban government remains unfriendly toward Christians

Cuba (MNN)Persecution remains high in Cuba, though unconventionally."In Cuba, it is different than in some other areas," says Ken Leggatt of World Serve Ministries. "Pastors aren't arrested typically, or beaten, or persecuted in that type of manner. It's more the situation where the government enforces laws that are on the books for everybody, but with the tendency towards punishing or using them to annoy or create hardships to Christians."An examples of this is a law where everyone was told they had to buy a new refrigerator. Citizens were allowed to take out loans to buy the refrigerators, but church planters and Christians were prohibited from getting loans.Many similar cases have made life difficult for believers in the communist country.Natives to Cuba are mostly open to the Gospel. Leggatt says one missionary family had 50 people attending their house church within six months of living in one Cuban city. Churches are getting excited to start new projects, including several building projects with World Serve."We're looking at doing several conference centers, or training centers, throughout the island-up to four in fact-where we will be able to conduct leadership and mentorship programs, discipleship programs, and even some youth camps," says Leggatt. "So we're working towards strategizing with the church there about how we can best come alongside them and assist them and support what they're already doing, but to do it even more effectively."The seeming animosity toward believers from the government, however, may cause problems for World Serve's building endeavors. Building permits can be difficult to procure for Christian projects. Other obstacles include funding, which will be particularly difficult since fall hurricanes flattened much of the island."Bags of concrete even are horrendously expensive," explains Leggatt."I believe the cost was 20 CUC, which is about 20 US dollars for a bag of concrete. It's prohibitive to build just due to funds."Plans for the centers will continue, however. There is certainly a spiritual need in Cuba and many who are ready to respond. In order to leap obstacles, however, help will be necessary.
Pray that the hearts of government leaders would be softened so permits might be provided for these centers.
Pray also that funding would come in to support the believers and churches in Cuba that are working hard to spread the love of Christ with few resources.
If you would like to help World Serve in their endeavors, click here.
http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12348
As in the days of Noah....

Uneasy calm hangs over Nigeria

An uneasy calm hangs over the Nigerian city of Bauchi, mainly because the area remains under a dusk-to-dawn curfew.Deadly riots erupted Saturday that left thousands displaced,14 dead and 100 in the hospital.Tensions have been on the rise for a couple of weeks now since Pentecostal Christians reportedly barricaded a pathway used by Muslims attending Friday prayers at a nearby mosque.The Police Commissioner says they've made 30 arrests in connection with the riots.The Red Cross reports extensive property damage to more than 200 houses, six churches and three mosques.International Christian Concern and Open Doors say there is still concern that sectarian riots could rival the massacres in Jos.According to reports, an Open Doors team was on its way to the region to help victims and investigate what happened.The spark tht set off several days of rioting is unclear.However, tensions have been running high in Bauchi since November 2008, when more than 300 people died in Jos,Plateau State.In Bauchi's case, it appears Muslim extremists were targeting Christians, and that has caused ministry in the region to slow.
Pray boldness and wisdom for the Christians.
As in the days of Noah...

"Moderate" Egypt Imitates Saudi Arabian Extremism:Six Egyptian Christians Sentenced to Three Years Imprisonment for Not Observing Islamic Holiday

WASHINGTON, D.C.-International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Egyptian authorities recently sentenced six Christian brothers to three years in prison for opening their café during the Muslim fasting season of Ramadan last September.Egyptian authorities raided the family-owned café and assaulted the Christians before arresting them for violating the Islamic holiday and "resisting and assaulting the authorities.""The attack was unprovoked and motivated by religious zeal on the side of the Muslim members of the police force, and was video-taped," according to a report by the United Copts of the Great Britain. Despite viewing this video evidence, the judge ignored the unlawful actions of the police and sentenced the brothers to three years of imprisonment with hard labor.The video can be viewed here:
[http://www.unitedcopts.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3314&Itemid=1]The decision to detain Christians for running their business in the month of Ramadan is unprecedented in Egypt.Though Egypt claims to be a moderate Islamic country, their decision in this case actually follows the principles of the radical brand of Wahhabi Islam that is enforced by the Saudi Arabian government.The brothers have appealed their case but they still remain in custodyICC’s Regional for Africa, Jonathan Racho, stated,“It is outrageous that the Egyptian authorities punish Christians for violating an Islamic holiday. It is unacceptable for Egyptian authorities to expect Christians to observe Ramadan. This case is a clear example of the systematic and growing discrimination Egyptian Christians face with the further radicalization of Muslims in Egypt. We call upon the Egyptian authorities to immediately release these Christians.”Egypt is a major recipient of foreign aid from the United States. US officials must pressure the Egyptian government to release the six Christians who are unjustly imprisoned.
Please call the Egyptian embassies in your countries and politely ask the Egyptian officials to release the Christians.
Please pray for the safety and release of the brothers.
USA
202 895 5400
202 244 4319
embassy@egyptembassy.net
Canada
(613 )234-4931
(613)234-4398
egyptemb@sympatico.ca, egypt4931@rogers.com
UK
020 7235 9777
020 7235 6562
info@egyptianconsulate.co.uk
Australia
(00612) 6273 4437-6273 4438
(00612) 6273 4279
egyembassy@bigpond.com
Germany
49 40 413326
49 40 413326
http://www.persecution.org/
PS:Please go to the link and watch the violence against these cafe owners...It's outrageous and shows once more the intolerance and hatred in which christians in Egypt live in--day in and out.Let's keep these brothers in our prayers...!!!!!
As in the days of Noah...

A NOTE TO MY READERS

I just wanted to drop a line here and let you all know about my life these past weeks.I felt it was neccessary since I'm going thru a very stressfull season in my life.
Somebody we love dearly is on life support.He's been on life support since last week when he coded at 300Am one nite...It is our pastor.He is more than a brother to us.He is part of our family and is like a father to us.He is only 47 and was diagnosed with colon cancer in october.We are still believing for a miracle,because we dont believe it is his time to go yet.So Ive been on the phone a lot,writting emails a lot,praying and fasting a lot,and trying to gon on with my life and rest in the midst of all this.Ive been trying to update my blogs everyday.Some days were more challenging than others.On top of that this coming week is what I call my "performing week"where you play as a soloist in front of real people that you dont know,and you get scored.Ive been doing pretty well but Im discouraged and sad.I just pick up the violin and play but I feel Im not there.I need the Lord to help me at all times.
I was just thinking that Ive gone thru a long season of struggle,trials,losses and disease and Im ready for a season of rest and restoration.
Events worldwide are going fast...faster than I anticipated they would.And all indicates that we are moving fast in time to a time of tribulation as the world has not known.
I have been feeling a prompting to spend more time alone with God and get my soul,mind and body ready for what is coming ahead.I urge you to do the same.To be ready at all times,cause we dont know the day and the hour.I know we all have a bunch of loved ones that are not saved yet.So we need to keep believing loving and praying and sharing the Word and working while it is still day...BUT the night comes...and is coming quickly...
Ive got to go now.We're headed to the hospital,cause today my pastor was scheduled to be disconnected from the ventilator for an hour to test if he could be weaned off it...This is difficult for all us .So IF the Lord leads you to pray for this,I would appreciate it and if you want to drop a line and let me know you are praying and where you are from,that would be really encouraging.
Thank you so much,for visiting my blog.
Im humbled to know many of you come back on a regular basis for news an for the truth and thank you to all those of you that sent me kind comments about it.
God bless you all
And Keep Looking Up....!!!
Love
1 John 3:8
As in the days of Noah...

Friday, March 20, 2009

NORTH KOREA WATCH:Ministries Go Underground to Aid North Korea

North Korea’s oppressed people live in a state of constant fear. They suffer from poor economic conditions, and many are starving. To make matters worse, they are increasingly isolated from the rest of the world.Open Doors World Watch List 2009 again ranked North Korea as the number one worst persecutor of Christians in the world. For seven years in a row, the county has topped the list.North Korea is suspected of detaining more political and religious prisoners than any other country in the world. Estimates reveal there are at least 200,000 prisoners, with up to as many as 70,000 being Christians.Paul Estabrooks, Minister-at-Large for Open Doors International and author of Escape from North Korea: A Desparate Quest for Food, Love and Life said officials in North Korea view Western Christianity negatively for several reasons. "There are two aspects to this. One, they look at Eastern Europe and the fall of Eastern Europe, countries like Poland and others, and they feel that Christianity had a very significant part in the fall of Poland, and other countries in Eastern Europe. And, they don’t want that to happen in North Korea,” said Estabrooks.“But, even more importantly, they consider Christianity as an American religion.” Christianity is not allowed in North Korea and the Bible is banned. If found to be a Christian, a person can be executed or put into a labor camp for years. The majority of people in the country have never heard the Scriptures, seen a church or heard about the biblical God, and the constitution is heavily based on Juche ideology.Under the leadership of Kim Jong-Il, Christianity is considered to be one of the greatest threats to the regime’s power. Kim has elevates himself as a god among his people.
Going Underground
“Our brothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea live under the worst oppression in the world—a modern day Holocaust. But because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus is making an impact through us against the powers of darkness behind Kim Jong-Il,” said Mrs. H.S. Foley, Executive Director, Seoul USA.Foley, a fourth generation Christian, born in Seoul, South Korea, lived half of her life there before coming to the United States to earn an MBA. Through her work at Seoul USA and the new Underground University project, she is committed to making a difference around the world, and specifically in North Korea.“My passion and purpose is to serve as a bridge between Korean and American culture, mobilizing the resources of both to equip and collaborate with those in Asia who are typically overlooked for ministry. I want to equip and collaborate with them to reach others who, like themselves, are overlooked by the church and by society in general.”According to Foley, Seoul USA is a network of people who want to go beyond the roles of donor or volunteer to become champions of the cause of serving the North Korean church.And, we want to expand our network to include others with the same goal.”To that goal, Seoul USA collaborates with Voice of The Martyrs in the United States and around the world to launch a million Gospel tracts by balloon into North Korea every year. The group also runs Underground University, a one-year North Korea missionary-training program, as well as a host of literature, radio, family ministries to North Korea.Foley hopes these efforts and new partnerships will raise up a new generation of church leadership for North Korea.“The main thing we see is a change in the way North Korean exiles view themselves,” she said.“They’re called North Korean defectors. They’ve even swallowed that identity for themselves. But they’re not defectors. They’re the North Korean Church in Exile—and waking them up to what that means will blow the future and the present wide open for the Underground Church inside North Korea.”Many defectors have previously trained in South Korean seminaries, hoping to return when the North is more open to the South. Such training may never be of use, Foley says, as North Korea shows no signs of warming to its counterpart.“Worse, the bared arm of the North Korean Underground Church—the one arm we can fully strategize with, train, equip, and redeploy to thrive today back inside of North Korea and China and wherever NK citizens travel around the world—hangs limp and lifeless,” Foley continued.Foley hopes to change that with the group’s April 2 banquet. The evening’s featured speaker, Kim Sun Min, is a North Korean defector who has twice escaped the country and now functions as dean of Underground University.
Meeting the Greatest Needs
“Probably the most restricted nation in the world is the country of North Korea, as far the gospel,” said Todd Nettleton, Director of Media Development for Voice of the Martyrs (VoM). The persecution watchdog partners with Seoul USA.“The phrase that I use is, ‘North Korea is a prison camp disguised as a country.’ Everyone in North Korea is oppressed, everyone is persecuted. Christians are just singled out for the very worst persecution and the very worst oppression.”The country’s government encourages its citizens to spy and report on each other, creating a “paranoid society,” Nettleton said. In such an environment, everyday needs such as food and clothing become huge challenges. Because of that, current mission to North Korea mostly take the form of food assistance, said Alpha Relief President Chris Moore.“The biggest push that we have right now, is doing everything we can to directly assist, and sustain the orphans, the street kids, believers, and people connected with believers in the county of North Korea, primarily in the form of food aid,” said Moore.“North Korea is in a situation where they are perpetually on the edge of famine, or actually in famine.”While an increased food supply open the door to share physical and spiritual food with neighbors, Alpha Relief is mindful of the costs.“If you are caught with any form of scripture, you get up to a thirteen-year concentration camp sentence,” Moore said. “So because of that we have to be very creative.”
By Ginny McCabe
Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
http://www.crosswalk.com/news/religiontoday/11600953/

As in the days of Noah...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jordan Militants Get Heavy Sentence for Church Bomb Plot

Jordan’s military court sentenced on Monday three Jordanian extremists to 22 1/2 years in jail for a plot to bomb a Catholic church last May.The judge explained that he gave the two-decade sentence because he believes the bomb plot itself, even if it failed, was a “danger to the state and its people,” according to The Associated Press. Authorities were able to prevent the attack last year when the group’s mastermind was arrested for speeding on the day of the planned bombing. The three had planned to detonate a vehicle filled with explosives in front of a Catholic church in the capital city, Amman.In general, Jordan is known to be a moderate Muslim country despite being located in the Middle East and having a more than 90 percent Sunni Muslim population. Christians are estimated to make up only about four to six percent of the population. Jordan’s Queen Rania is well known around the world for speaking against Muslim extremism and violence in the name of religion.She is also an outspoken advocate of women’s rights and protecting children from violence.But last year a U.S. State Department report warned that Jordan as well as Sunni-dominated Algeria in northern Africa – both countries with traditionally respectable religious freedom records – are new spots of Islamic fundamentalism and religious intolerance.In Jordan, a sharia court found a convert to Christianity from Islam guilty of apostasy.The judge then annulled his marriage and declared him to have no religious identity.Also,the government reportedly harassed individuals and organizations because of their religious affiliations, according to the State Department report.The report covered the time period between July 2007 to July 2008 and was released in September.
By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter

As in the days of Noah...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kazakh church reaches out despite persecution

Kazakhstan (MNN)While there's still a question about whether or not a restrictive religion law will go into effect in Kazakhstan, the evangelical church continues its work despite threats of persecution."Judy" with The Mission Society says she's been working in a village for about 13 years now."One of our churches we planted about 10 years ago has planted three churches themselves and also developed drug and alcohol rehabs centers."She says this is an incredible milestone."I've been working among the people who have come to the Lord in the last 13 years, and many of them had never even heard the name 'Jesus.' Many of them had lived without any hope and any future, and their lives were completely transformed."While the religion law hasn't been implemented, known evangelical believers are being oppressed."We have many church members that are unable to get a job in the particular village that I work in because of a local village mayor. He's already said if you're a member of the church you will not be hired for any work in this village."Officially, the national government isn't against Christianity. However, Christians are being verbally attacked, their salaries are being cut, they're forced to do more work for less pay, and some are even fired without cause.According to Judy, this isn't having a negative effect on strong new Christians."I was actually invited to a celebration tea," says Judy,"and I was quite confused about that.They said, 'Don't you understand? We have been Christians for five years, and we are so excited that God counts us worthy to be able to suffer for Him.'"So while the tensions increase, Judy says believers are pressing on."They just have an excitement sometimes, and they just want to share with other people what they have found."
Judy is asking you to pray for "continuing growth in the leaders, that they would be able to remain strong under this persecution, and that in the midst of it that they would grow spiritually."
Pray also that western missionaries will know when to let go and allow the national church to do the work.
As in the days of Noah...

Azerbaijan to further restrict religious freedom

Azerbaijan (MNN)Azerbaijan's wide-ranging religious literature censorship system has started to affect evangelical leaders in the country.Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba was just in the country and says,"Two Baptist pastors were traveling between neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan-authorities confiscated Azerbaijani Bibles." According to Forum 18 News, an official of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations said,"Our society doesn't need books that don't suit our laws and our beliefs." He claimed that unspecified religious literature could cause unspecified "social harm and possibly inter-religious and inter-ethnic violence."Rakhuba says an amendment allowing strict censorship will be heading for a referendum this month.He says believers may face raids reminiscent of the Cold War if the censorship issue continues."Local police will be searching homes of evangelical leaders, and they will take all their Christian literature away from them."This will mean little", says Rakhuba."Basically there is a dictatorship in Azerbaijan," he says.Russian Ministries works to empower the national evangelical church.They intend to do that despite the persecution."We're very much considering and praying and evaluating our resources to see how we can start our School Without Walls program for the next academic year in the fall."School without Walls is a program that helps train next generation church leaders, and Rakhuba says their work must continue."The church is not scared.The church is growing.The church needs a lot more support to continue their ministry in the circumstances like that."Support comes in the form of prayer and dollars. Rakhuba says financial support is wide ranging."The church needs support for training resources, to have more Bibles, to have more Christian literature. All of this is not allowed there, but they know how to smuggle it to Azerbaijan and make it available."
Pray that God will stop the literature censorship.If that isn't stopped, pray that God would allow the training to continue and the literature to get into the hands of Christians who need it.
You can help financially. Just click here.
As in the days of Noah...

Thieves Stone Christians,Killing Woman,for Going to Police:Group Wanted to "Teach a Lesson" to Christians after Robbed Man Reported Them

WASHINGTON, D.C.-International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on March 2 a group of 25 Muslim radicals attacked the women and children of a Christian neighborhood in Pakistan while the male inhabitants were absent, killing one woman and injuring 12 other people. This attack was the culmination of several days of tension after a young Christian man registered a criminal case against a few Muslim youths who mugged him on February 26. Insulted that a Christian would register a case against Muslims, the attack was planned in order to "teach a lesson" to the Christian community. According to Emmanuel Shad, an elder at the Sango Wali village's Presbyterian Church, 17-year-old Mr. Imran Masih was robbed by his Muslim neighbors while he was on his way home from work on February 26. The thieves physically assaulted him and stole about $40 and his cell phone. They did not hide their faces, so when Imran returned home he told his family who had mugged him. Imran's family approached the Muslim boys' families to request that they return the money and valuables, but were refused.Angered at the Christian family for reporting this case to the police, on March 2 the youths who robbed Imran gathered several accomplices to seek revenge."Around 25 armed Muslim men attacked the Christian community and the Presbyterian Church in Sango Wali, Aroop town, Gujranwala on March 2 at about 11:00 am. They abused the young girls, stoned the Christian community, killing Ms. Shahkeela Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian woman, and injuring 12 others," reported Ms. Surayia Channan, a local human rights activist in Gujranwala.The time was chosen strategically, because the attackers knew that at 11:00 am most of the men would be away for work. A few rushed back to their homes when they heard about the incident.The Muslim mob invaded the neighborhood and the church armed with guns, hockey sticks, stones and small weapons. After attacking the people in the neighborhood, the criminals damaged the doors and windows of the church and shouted demeaning statements against Christianity. The terrorists did not allow a local rescue team to provide first aid to those they had injured. They threatened anyone who tried to provide assistance to the injured or give information to the police, but finally dispersed when police arrived on the scene.Ms. Shahkeela Bibi died on the spot and 12 others who were seriously injured were admitted to the civil hospital in Gujranwala. As of this morning, all of those injured have been discharged from the hospital. The Christians did file a criminal case against the men who attacked them, but police have only arrested two of the 12 suspects named in the case so far.The husband of deceased Ms. Shahkeela Bibi was hesitant to pursue further legal action due to pressure from local politicians and police officials, and is considering withdrawing his complaint.At present, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace is supporting the victims in legal matters.Ms. Suraiya told ICC that there are 20-25 Christian families belonging to the Presbyterian Church living among almost 1,500 Muslim families in the village. Mr. Imran Masih and Ms. Shahkeela Bibi were unknown to each other and had no family relation. A large crowd of Christians staged a series of protests on March 2 and 3 in Gujranwala to demand justice. Samuel Wallace, ICC's Regional Manager for South & Central Asia, said, "Not only is it appalling how these men could be 'insulted' for having their theft held to account by their victim simply because he was Christian, this case reveals how bankrupt the Pakistani justice system is. Police turned a blind eye to the theft and four days later the same criminals murdered a woman who had nothing to do with the robbery. There will be no true justice in Pakistan until the weakest in their society can see police as an ally instead of an enemy."
http://www.persecution.org/
As in the days of Noah...

Intimidating Critics of Islam:"Politicians and citizens who raise questions about the religion are targeted"

We lost more than a million jobs in the past few months, the headlines remind us. So last month's story about a Dutch court's ruling that Geert Wilders was "inciting hatred and discrimination"-and that "it is in the public interest to prosecute" him-understandably didn't make the American news.Did Wilders rip off a minority in a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme? No, he's a member of the Dutch parliament, and his precise villainy was releasing a 15-minute film.Entitled Fitna,it suggests a direct link between certain verses of the Koran and acts of terrorism.Not to be outdone, the United Kingdom this week banned Wilders from entering the country.Its reasoning: His"presence in the U.K. would pose a genuine, present, and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society."A letter from the home secretary went on to tell Wilders that "your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere,would threaten community harmony and therefore public security."In 2007, Cambridge University Press destroyed unsold copies of Alms for Jihad after it was sued by Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi-Irish businessman whom the book accused of financing al-Qaeda. So much for academics standing up against book-burning.In 2005, reporters from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten were forced into hiding after publishing a series of 12 cartoons about Muhammad. Islamic fundamentalists found the images blasphemous and threatened to bomb the paper's offices and kill its cartoonists - apparently, in certain quarters, an alternative to a letter to the editor.Last year, at the urging of the Canadian Islamic Congress, author Mark Steyn was forced to defend himself against charges of racism and "Islamophobia" that were filed with three Canadian human-rights commissions, based on his columns in Maclean's magazine.And, following a 2008 U.N. resolution urging nations to outlaw "defamation of religion," several nations - including Italy, the Netherlands and France - are attempting to ban "hate speech" against religious groups.All of these incidents are calculated to intimidate critics of Islam in Europe and across the West. The message in the European Union is clear: Politicians, religious figures, and even private citizens with religiously and politically incorrect opinions will be subject not only to Muslim protest, but to criminal prosecution and violent retribution.What publisher will print Steyn's next book if it can be labeled a hate crime and banned in most countries? "Pretty soon, your little book is looking a lot less commercially viable," Steyn has said. "At the end of the day, there'll be a lot of...American books that will go unpublished here in America."In addition, these incidents deflect attention away from real-rather than trumped-up-religious discrimination. In the arena of actual persecution of religious minorities, Arab and Islamic nations are much of the problem.Look at the U.S. State Department's 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom. Among the dozens of limitations on religious freedom in the Arab-Islamic world are the crimes of apostasy - converting from Islam to another religion - and blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad, both punishable by death under Muslim Sharia law. Coptic Christians are, at best, second-class citizens in Egypt; Baha'is are savagely persecuted in Iran; and churches and synagogues are banned in Saudi Arabia, as is any non-Muslim religious activity in public.This is not a front- or even back-page story in the American press today. Why? Because it has nothing to do with the economy.The gathering storm I have been warning of for years has now formed over the West. Yet instead of fighting the gradual incursion of Sharia and the demands of an intolerant, even militant Islam, Westerners are cowering and fatalistic. Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that acceptance of some parts of Sharia in Britain seemed "unavoidable."So how did the market do today?
By Rick Santorum
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
As in the days of Noah....

EGYPT:"Ruling on Bid for Christian ID Expected Soon";Attorney says he is "90% sure" that convert from Islam will win case

ISTANBUL(Compass Direct News)Following a hearing on Saturday Feb. 7th, the lawyer for a Christian convert in Egypt said he is hopeful that his client will become the first Muslim-born Egyptian to be granted official identification as a Christian. Nabil Ghobreyal, attorney in the controversial and long-running legal effort by Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary to change religious affiliation on his identification papers, said he expects a favorable decision at the next hearing on Feb. 21.“I am now 90 percent sure they will accept the conversion,”said Ghobreyal.“I proved to the court that there is no legal reason why he can’t convert to Christianity according to Egyptian civil law.”Ghobreyal said he is “generally happy with the attitude” of the new judge in the case, Hamdy Yasin, who declared that he was ready to listen to the facts of the case without prejudice. Yasin replaced Judge Mohammad Ahmad Atyia, who in a Jan. 6 hearing expelled Ghobreyal from the courtroom after the lawyer challenged his refusal to acknowledge the existence of legal documents detailing the successful attempt of a Muslim to convert to the Baha’i faith.Lawyers for the state asked that El-Gohary, who has been in hiding under threat of death, appear in person to offer testimony. Ghobreyal protested, arguing that forcing El-Gohary to attend would present extreme risk to his personal safety. The judge agreed to Ghobreyal’s request.Mohammed Hegazy, the first Muslim-born Christian convert to attempt to have his new religion officially registered, is also in hiding after receiving death threats.Ghobreyal said that the state’s lawyers seemed to attempt to further delay or derail the case by calling for Dr. Ahmed Fathi Sorour, speaker of the People’s Assembly (Egypt’s parliament), to appear in court to testify about lack of legislation on “apostasy,” or leaving Islam.
Implications
Should El-Gohary be granted the right to officially convert on Feb. 21, he would become the first Egyptian born a Muslim to do so.Such a precedent could pave the way for Hegazy, whose petition to legally change his religious status was denied in January of last year.His lawyer, Gamal Eid, said this week he hopes to obtain another court date for his appeal.“It would be very good for any cases like this,” Eid said.“It will open the door for people who are looking for freedom of belief.”As much as a favorable ruling for El-Gohary would represent a milestone for freedom of belief in Egypt, the editor of the Egyptian newspaper Watani said he would have concerns about the impact of such a decision.“Definitely there will be a backlash, whether from al-Azhar [university and mosque in Cairo], the Islamic supreme authority, or from the media or from the people,” said Youssef Sidhom, a Coptic Christian. “This is expected, and I suppose our government should be prepared to deal with such reactions.”Ghobreyal, however, maintained that success would secure a route for all those wishing to officially change their religious affiliation.“They will not be able to do that [ban official conversion in the future],” he said, “because of the international covenants and treaties which Egypt has ratified and the difficulty of making a law against apostasy, on which Islamic jurisprudence differs about how it should be handled.”Despite a constitution that grants religious freedom, legal conversion from Islam to another faith remains unprecedented. Hegazy, who filed his case on Aug. 2, 2007, was denied the right to officially convert in a Jan. 29, 2008 court ruling that declared it was against Islamic law for a Muslim to leave Islam.The judge based his decision on Article II of the Egyptian constitution, which enshrines Islamic law, or sharia, as the source of Egyptian law.The judge said that, according to sharia, Islam is the final and most complete religion and therefore Muslims already practice full freedom of religion and cannot return to an older belief (Christianity or Judaism).Egyptian President Anwar Sadat amended the constitution in 1980 to make sharia the main source of legislation in order to bolster support from Islamists against his secular and leftist rivals. Legal experts say there are two views of how sharia is to influence Egyptian law: That it is to be enforced directly in all government spheres, or that it is only to influence shaping of law by legislators and is not to be literally enforced by courts or other bodies.
http://www.compassdirect.org/en/display.php?page=news&lang=en&length=long&idelement=5804&backpage=archives&critere=egypt&countryname=&rowcur=0
As in the days of Noah...

Orissa Archbishop:"Gov't Ignored Violence Because Victims are Poor"

WASHINGTON-The Indian government ignored the brutal anti-Christian campaign in the remote state of Orissa for months because the population is poor and uneducated, said Catholic Archbishop Raphael Cheenath on Wednesday at an event discussing the state of religious freedom in India.At least half of the population in Orissa belongs to the outcast segment-untouchables or tribal-based on the caste system, noted the Archbishop of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, located in the region of Orissa, at the event hosted by public policy think tank Hudson Institute.As a result, the government is “not interested” in developing Orissa, which remains the least developed and poorest state in India despite being the biggest supplier of minerals in the country, he said.“Orissa, in the eyes of the government, is a non-entity as a state,” Cheenath, who is visiting the United States this week, said.To support his argument, the Archbishop pointed out that a fact-finding team from the central government arrived in Orissa only after the violence against Christians had been raging on for two and a half months.However, when Karnataka, a state in South India, was attacked, the government was able to stop the violence within five days “because there are more educated and more important people there-politicians,” Cheenath claimed.Then when the Mumbai attacks occurred, the violence was stopped in three days “though they were the most dreaded terrorists,” he noted.Cheenath, frustrated over the lack of concern for Orissa, wrote a letter to the Indian prime minister saying that he does not understand how the government can stop the Mumbai attacks in three days, Karnataka in five days, but couldn’t stop the attacks on Christians in Orissa after more than four months.“So you can see the difference,”Archbishop Cheenath said.“There is discrimination. There is a neglect from the state as well as the central government because Orissa is not an important place.”Earlier in the talk, the Archbishop informed the audience that Orissa’s northeast region has a “very high” percentage of Christians - anywhere from 60 to 90 percent - compared to one percent or at most 17 percent in other areas of the state and country.Many of the Christians in Orissa are poor Dalits or from tribal groups.Hindu fundamentalists have accused Christians of forcibly converting the tribals in Orissa,but Cheenath explained that the tribal had no prior religion before accepting Christianity. Tribal Indians are animists so it is false when Hindus say they converted to Christianity from Hinduism.The attacks on Christians began in mid-August after the murder of a Hindu religious leader. Maoist rebels have publicly claimed responsibility for the murder, but Hindu fanatics insist on laying the blame on Christians and destroying their homes and churches in retaliation.Since August, more than 60 Christians have been killed; 18,000, wounded; 181 churches, razed or destroyed; 4,500 Christian homes, burned; and more than 50,000 Christians, displaced, of whom more than 30,000 remain in refugee camps or in hiding in the jungle, according to media reports.In one heartbreaking story, Cheenath recalled learning about a young Hindu girl who was babysitting at a Christian orphanage and was gang raped and then thrown alive into a bonfire by Hindu fanatics.
By Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter
http://christianpost.com/Intl/Persecution/2009/01/orissa-archbishop-gov-t-ignored-violence-because-victims-are-poor-29/index.html
As in the days of Noah....

World Watch China Video

China has recently been moved to #12 (from 10) on the World Watch List.20th century China was shaped by isolation, communism and hostility towards Christianity.In the face of persecution, Christianity continues to spread in China, a country of 60 to 80 million Christians...

Open Doors World Watch List 2009 Now Available

The World Watch List is compiled from a specially-designed questionnaire of 50 questions covering various aspects of religious freedom.A point of value is assigned depending on how each question is answered.The total number of points per country determines its position on the World Watch List of countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians.
Open Doors mission is to use this extensive resource to spread awareness of the degree and severity of persecution around the world.
To help spread awareness Open Doors have made the complete and comprehensive World Watch List free and available for download.
Go to the link below to download this helpful resource and share it with family,friends and church.
God Bless You
http://www.opendoorsusa.org/content/view/432/
As in the days of Noah...

Voice of America Report Reveals that Meeting Between Beijing House Church Leaders and Government Officials was Misreported

BEIJING-The Voice of America released the following report on January 28, 2009 regarding the December 2008 meeting between Beijing house church leaders and government officials. While many news sources have reported that these meetings indicate a change of attitude by the Chinese government,however Voice of America sources, along with ChinaAid contacts, have emphasized the meetings were not actually arranged by government officials.
The Equivocal Relationship Between the Chinese House Churches and the Chinese Government
By Ya Wei, Voice of America
Last December, the house church leaders in China held a conference in Beijing.According to the person in charge, the conference was not officially supported by the Chinese government as some have assumed.The relationship between the Chinese house churches and the Chinese government remains equivocal.A few international media sources,including The Times,reported that the Chinese officials and leaders of the Chinese house churches secretly met with each other last year in Beijing, which marked the first significant step towards reconciliation in decades.It was reported that the two parties joined together as negotiators instead of opponents. It was also said that the meeting was at a crucial time because this year is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the P.R.C.,and the Chinese government desires a national celebration without any disturbance.The Times reported on the rapid increase of the Chinese Christian population in recent years.The Chinese officials privately estimate there are about 130,000,000 Christians in China, many of whom belong to the house churches.The number of Christians in China far exceeds the population of the Communist Party members (Currently there are 74,000,000 Communist Party members).The church leaders believe that this is one of the reasons why the official Chinese think tank-Research Center of the State Council-summoned two breakthrough conferences in late 2008.It was reported that the majority of those who attended the first conference were academics and lawyers, many of whom are house church members; the second conference brought together six house church leaders.
NGOs Arrange House Church Research Conference
Dr. Fan, Yafeng, an academic of Law in Beijing, organized and attended the meeting on December 1st, 2008. In the meeting, they discussed the treatment of the house churches’ development and the issues in regarding the house churches’ identity. According to Dr. Fan’s description, it was a small-scale meeting among NGOs, which was not how it was promoted-namely,that it was authorized by and was given under the auspices of the Chinese government to get to know the situation of the house churches and create a dialogue with the two groups. “The conference was a small internal research meeting that an NGO hosted to prepare for a research report on house church issues. One thing I can confirm, this meeting did not have official Chinese backing or authorization to begin a dialogue with house church leaders,” said Dr. Fan. According to an anonymous organizer, the meeting attendees consisted of three groups: specialists and lawyers on religious freedom regarding the relationship of religion and legality; house church leaders and academics from NGOs in the related field. “We hope that, through discussions on the relationship between the house churches and the government, we will impact future policy on religion. We hope the new policy will improve the politics-religion relationship.”
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Kurd Church Service

Churches worldwide under attack

International (ODM/MNN)-The murder last week of an Illinois pastor horrified Americans. It's not a common occurrence in the U.S., but Open Doors says deadly violence against believers around the world occurs on a daily basis."Most Christians in the United States don't know this kind of violence happens every day in some restrictive countries around the world...places like Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan. And the attacks are directed against Christians. They are caught in the crossfire," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller."People don't think that kind of persecution could happen in the U.S., but it is starting to happen. That's why we must unite in prayer with our brothers and sisters around the world."On the same day Rev. Fred Winters, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Maryville, was killed, a village pastor in India's Bihar State was seriously wounded when an attacker tried to kill him to stop him from preaching the Gospel.Police Inspector Hari Krishna Mandal told Compass Direct News that the attacker, Rajesh Singh, had come fully prepared to kill the pastor, Vinod Kumar, and then take his own life.Church members caught Singh before he could kill himself or others.A week ago, Compass Direct News reported a gun and club attack on a Presbyterian church and neighboring homes in the predominantly-Christian area of a village in Pakistan. One woman was killed and 16 people wounded.Open Doors estimates 100 million Christians are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Torture, imprisonment, harassment and murder are all directed towards Christians."Last month Open Doors released its annual World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution," says Moeller."It was headed by North Korea again, followed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Those countries are always among the top persecutors."Could the United States be listed there some day? Perhaps. On Monday March 12, a study revealed the number of people calling themselves Christians in the U.S. has significantly dropped over the last two decades. We need to be on our guard to protect our precious freedom of religion in the U.S. and advocate for those who don't share our freedom. We also need to be ready to share our faith, no matter what the cost."
Keep praying for the church leaders working in restrictive nations.
http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12423
As in the days of Noah...

Minister beaten after clashing with Muslims on his TV show

A Christian minister who has had heated arguments with Muslims on his TV Gospel show has been brutally attacked by three men who ripped off his cross and warned:"If you go back to the studio, we’ll break your legs." The Reverend Noble Samuel was driving to the studio when a car pulled over in front of him. A man got out and came over to ask him directions in Urdu.Mr Samuel, based at Heston United Reformed Church, West London, said:"He put his hand into my window, which was half open, and grabbed my hair and opened the door.He started slapping my face and punching my neck. He was trying to smash my head on the steering wheel.Then he grabbed my cross and pulled it off and it fell on the floor. He was swearing. The other two men came from the car and took my laptop and Bible."The Metropolitan Police are treating it as a ‘faith hate’ assault and are hunting three Asian men.In spite of the attack, Mr Samuel went ahead with his hour-long live Asian Gospel Show on the Venus satellite channel from studios in Wembley,North London. During the show the Muslim station owner Tahir Ali came on air to condemn the attack. Pakistan-born Mr Samuel, 48, who was educated by Christian missionaries and moved to Britain 15 years ago, said that over the past few weeks he has received phone-in calls from people identifying themselves as Muslims who challenged his views."They were having an argument with me,"he said."They were very aggressive in saying they did not agree with me. I said those are your views and these are my views."He said that he, his wife Louisa, 48, and his son Naveed, 19, now fear for their safety, and police have given them panic alarms."I am frightened and depressed," he said."My show is not confrontational."
By Jonathan Petre
As in the days of Noah....